Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
The Domestic Chaplain (from A Satire addressed to a Friend)
By John Oldham (1653–1683)
[From A Satire addressed to a Friend that is about to leave the University, and come abroad in the world.]

SOME think themselves exalted to the sky,
If they light in some noble family.
Diet, a horse, and thirty pounds a year,
Besides the advantage of his lordship’s ear,
The credit of the business, and the state,        5
Are things that in a youngster’s sense sound great.
Little the inexperienced wretch does know,
What slavery he oft must undergo,
Who, though in silken scarf and cassock dressed,
Wears but a gayer livery at best.        10
When dinner calls, the implement must wait,
With holy words to consecrate the meat,
But hold it for a favour seldom known,
If he be deigned the honour to sit down—
Soon as the tarts appear, Sir Crape, withdraw!        15
Those dainties are not for a spiritual maw.
Observe your distance, and be sure to stand
Hard by the cistern with your cap in hand;
There for diversion you may pick your teeth,
Till the kind voider 1 comes for your relief.        20
For mere board wages such their freedom sell,
Slaves to an hour, and vassals to a bell;
And if the enjoyment of one day be stole,
They are but prisoners out on parole:
Always the marks of slavery remain,        25
And they, though loose, still drag about their chain.
  And where ’s the mighty prospect after all,
A chaplainship served up, and seven years’ thrall?
The menial thing, perhaps, for a reward
Is to some slender benefice preferred,        30
With this proviso bound: that he must wed
My lady’s antiquated waiting-maid
In dressing only skilled, and marmalade.
Note 1. Basket for the scraps of dinner. [back]

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